I think it has only be in the last decade or so that I’ve seen such popularity in alternative travel accommodations – I’m not sure if it’s because social media has made it easier to find such alternatives (and the reviews to back them up, of course) or if we’ve just become more open minded travelers in general.
July is National Vacation Rental Month and we’ve partnered with Wyndham Vacation Rentals to celebrate the praises of vacation rentals as a affordable luxury travel alternative for your accommodation needs.
Wait, What is a Vacation Rental, Exactly?
If you have not used a vacation rental before, basically it is simply a furnished apartment or house that caters to tourists. When I say “caters to tourists,” I mean that there are extra basics, like dishes and dish soap, wine glasses and corkscrews (and a map to the local wine bar), washer/dryer, and often other amenities like a check-in area to make it easy to get keys, travel information, troubleshooting, etc.
Vacation rentals come in many shapes and sizes. My first vacation rental experience was a boutique luxury apartment in Queenstown, New Zealand. When I booked, I chose a keycode, and that code I used to open the door when I arrived. It was your basic apartment building – I don’t even know if the other units were rentals too, and didn’t care, because the apartment was absolutely gorgeous and well-appointed.
On the opposite end, I stayed in a vacation rental in Mexico which was much more like a hotel – until opening the hotel room door and finding the most gorgeous apartment with one of those massive, tiered sliding glass doors opening onto an unobstructed beach view. In this case, having the staff on site was nice for things like booking taxis, beach towels, etc. but otherwise we felt quite on our own.
When a Vacation Rental Makes Perfect Sense
Vacation rentals are, well, everywhere. But there are some particular instances when they are a great fit:
- Extended stay vacations: Planning on staying put in one spot for awhile – say, 6 days or more? Then a vacation rental is a good fit because you’ll get more for your money, and you’ll be a bit more comfortable. If you’re planning on staying for a couple of weeks, be sure to ask about how often the cleaners come by to spruce things up – you’re on vacation after all.
- Multi-generational travel: Multi-generational travel is growing in popularity, and in addition to villa rentals, a vacation rental is a fantastic way to be comfortable and accommodate everyone’s varied needs, like multiple bedrooms.
- Couples’ Getaways: Planning a weekend away with another couple? You no doubt want to enjoy some together time and some, uh, alone time. Vacation rentals are often well suited for this.
- Retreats: Writing week away from home? Digital detox? I can’t promise you that you’ll resist the Wifi temptations, but vacation rentals are great retreat type spots, since you have full kitchens and lounging areas.
If you are planning to be on-the-go quite a bit, you might prefer a hotel, since you won’t have the opportunity to use the extra amenities offered by a vacation rental.
Where to Go for a Vacation Rental
Now that you’ve got an idea when a vacation rental makes perfect sense, how about where? Here are some of the most popular spots I’ve seen (and experienced myself):
- The East Coast: You’ll find a lot of options for rentals on the coast, in cities like Charleston (pictured above) or the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
- Head for the Mountains: Where you find ski villages, you’ll find vacation rentals. Colorado always tops my list, but there are other great places to go. And don’t forget, ski villages turn into hiking hotspots in summer (and often at lower prices).
- Rural West Coast: From the quiet fishing villages of the Oregon coast (such as Pacific City) to cruising down the Pacific Coast Highway, there are lots of beach towns on the west coast perfect for vacation rentals. Just think about those dreamy sunsets..
- Head south for the winter: If you look at Cancun and beyond, you’ll find plenty of safe, clean, and friendly getaway spots in Mexico.
Staying in a large, urban city? I prefer hotels in this case, because urban vacation rentals don’t always have the extra space for the price, or they’re located far away from all the excitement.
Have you had a good – or bad – vacation rental experience? Please, hop on over to Facebook and share your story.
All photos courtesy of author.